Saturday, January 23, 2016

STALKING MY EX-SELF


Whenever I have a bad bought of anxiety (mine comes in all shapes and sizes, but more often than not, out of nowhere a small but irrational fear roots itself in my brain that, thanks to medication, usually goes away after a good night's sleep) I tend to do the same thing: I turn to YouTube and watch videos of my college a cappella group. Instantly, I'm back in the dusty room we always performed in. I can see the cluster of students sitting cross-legged on the ground, and for three minutes and twenty-four seconds, I've traveled in time. I'm no longer thinking about the icky, nagging scenario my mind has concocted for me, but am instead remembering the taste of Woodchuck cider, the walk from my dorm room to the dining hall, the smell of the coffee shop. I may be painting this as some kind of therapy, but I've started to think it's just another symptom. This is always stage one in a full-on spiral into my past, and as someone who has documented her life pretty obsessively, there's a lot of ground to cover.





It just takes a few simple words in the YouTube search bar to transport yourself all the way back to my eighth-grade school year. Admittedly, I made it pretty easy. This was the year I started making annual montage videos that cobbled together clips from the past eight to ten months, set to whatever heartwarming music had been popular in my friend group. If you wanted to, you could watch me and my friends grow up in less than 20 minutes. The braces disappear, the baby fat fades, and by twelfth grade, we've grown into our bodies, both much older and still extremely young, every year getting younger as I look back knowing more.



It's this perspective that makes watching these videos both comforting and stale. When I made them, it was just with the intent of getting the most worthwhile and happy moments into one video that we all could watch the day after school let out in the summer. It was an attempt to neatly package memories. But I still remember the things that happened behind the camera, the people just out of frame, and sometimes, the people front and center whose futures I never could have anticipated. There are people who have died, been horrifically injured, or who hurt me in ways I didn't understand, preserved perfectly in these videos in total ignorance, frozen and at the same time fully mobile, because that was the point.




After these binges into the past, I end up in entirely different places but with the exact same taste in my mouth. I'll look up from the short skit I made with friends in 10th grade, or a recording of my first ever concert with my a cappella group, or picture 468 out of 954 on Facebook, and wish I had just gone for a run, or taken a bath, or lit a candle, or just done something to shake me out of this funk rather than fully succumbing to it. This all started with me being too much in my own head, and it's almost like over my entire life, I've just built up the resources that have allowed me to go deeper. I have a complicated relationship with it, because clearly getting my thoughts out, through writing or through video, is important to me, but going back to them feels kind of like social-media-stalking an ex. I'm stalking my ex-self, digging up memories, slipping back into this person I'm just not anymore, and it's this dissonance that makes coming back up for air as empty as it is satisfying. I stay submerged for as long as possible, treading the water, seeing how long I can go before I concede that watching the videos is as close as I'll ever get to reliving those memories. I close the browser and go to sleep. But sometime soon, whether it be weeks or months, I'll pull out my camera and press record.


No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!